Winter trail runners agressive with grip, midsole protection

Winter trail running shoes get more aggressive with increased grip and midsole protection. But while many manufacturers are beefing up, some companies focus on the bare essentials.

Throughout the month of February, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 19-22. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

In the trail running category for fall 2012 it’s all about spikes, lots of little lugs and minimalist designs with increased midsole protection.

More manufacturers are adding spike-like items on the soles of some of their winter trail runners, looking to eliminate the need the need for extra traction accessories. Also on the soles, lugs are getting a winter makeover, with more emphasis on adapting to ice or snow.

Winter trail running pioneer Icebug introduced its newly revamped Anima Bugrip (MSRP $149, photo, right), which has the company’s trademark retractable carbite studs. Plus, the newer Anima Bugrip has increased midsole protection and is offered in more eye-catching colors. Icebug’s Gary Richter said the product is ideal for winter trail runners and senior citizens who want to get out in the winter months.

Taking its knowledge of the backcountry, Karhuintroduced its new Trail Series, which includes two shoes: the Trail Traction (MSRP $150), waterproof with carbite spikes on the soles, and the Trail (MSRP $130, photo, left), water-resistant but without spikes.


Salomon offered its new Climashield-constructed Spikecross CS (MSRP $160, photo, right). Each shoe has nine carbide-tipped spikes embedded in the M&S Contragrip rubber outsole. The Climashield protects runners from rain and slush while the M&S Contragrip provides better grip on wet surfaces.

Doug Clark, CEO of GoLite Footwear, said the company took inspiration for its lug design from the paws of a gecko with its new men’s and women’s TR63 (MSRP $170, photo, left), a trail running shoe with 350 tiny lugs on each zero-drop outsole. The shoes also have 270 degrees of Flex, Clark said, which allows for a more natural stride and more contact with the ground.

“A lot of little lugs work better for traction,” Clark explained. He added that the product also has increased midsole cushioning.

For winter weather protection, Vasque brought its Snow Junkie (MSRP $130), which is built on a so-called Perpetuum last with 200 grams of 3M Thinsulate Ultra and an UltraDry membrane for waterproofness. With all that, Vasque will market the Snow Junkie as both a trail running shoe and snowshoeing boot.

Pearl Izumi brought its men’s and women’s isoSeek IV WRX (MSRP $130, photo, right), which has an Energy Cell for optimal forefront cushioning, plus a full carbon rubber outsole designed for off-road traction and mud shedding.

At Five Ten making a lightweight product for winter wasn’t the concern, said founder and president Charles Cole, whose company will come to its first show under the ownership of Adidas. He designed a product strictly for protection in trail running called the Half Dome Mid (MSRP $155) for both men and women. Consumers can also take it hiking, climbing, jumping and mountain biking, he said. The company’s signature Stealth Rubber provides traction and shock absorption.

“I designed our trail running shoe with a different idea,” Cole said. “I put a mid-weight hiking shoe upper with all the durability in the world, on top of a trail shoe bottom.”

But some winter running footwear is following the footsteps of its summer cousins — going minimalist. Of course, they can’t go as light as their opposite-season brethren. There’s a need for extra protection and grip on the cold and icy trails.

Vibram and Merrell will attempt to keep the minimalist footwear trend going through winter with two new, beefed-up, cold-weather specific versions of their popular bare-bone designs. 

Vibram FiverFingers’ Lontra (MSRP $150, photo, left) brings all the charm of FiveFingers but with a thicker Trek rubber outsole and a five-layered laminate, water-resistant upper meant to give runners better traction and protection from rocks and elements.

And Merrell’s new Pulse Glove (MSRP $125) will work to keep out cold rain and snow with its weather-resistant Aeroblock fiber and a built-in zip-up gaiter. A Vibram Road Glove sole with Ice Trek rubber promises to give runners traction in icy conditions.

–Ana Trujillo